Welcome to EMBRACE THE MAGIC Chapter One. On this page, you’ll find the entire first chapter of the second installment of the Blood Rose Series.
Details about EMBRACE THE MAGIC, Book #2
Ethan desperately needs his blood rose…
Ethan, mastyr vampire of the Bergisson Realm, never thought to find his blood rose, the one woman who could ease the blood-starvation he’s endured for decades. But Samantha carries a surprising level of power as her newly discovered fae heritage emerges and she connects with his personal realm frequency, a vibration that ignites his passion. His commitment to rule Bergisson, however, has priority, even over his driving need to be with Samantha. As desire rises, and Ethan finds himself drawn into the web of his driving, relentless need for her, will he be able to embrace his blood rose or will his guilt over past events prevent him from living life to the fullest?
How can she give up the life she planned…
Samantha can’t believe she’s a blood rose, a woman who can meet the needs of a starved mastyr vampire. Her plans never included the world of the Nine Realms in which mastyr vampires rule millions of realm-folk, but learning that she’s half-fae has changed everything. As Ethan’s blood-needs become a life-or-death struggle, and cast her into a war against the dreaded Invictus, how can she choose to embrace her new fae powers and change her life so completely? Will she take on the role forever as Ethan’s blood rose? Or will her desire to follow her life’s ambitions force her to choose against love, passion, and unbelievable fae power?
~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
And here’s the first chapter of EMBRACE THE MAGIC!
Mastyr Vampire Ethan stared down into Sweet Gorge where two of his Guardsmen hauled up a body on a sling carried between them. They flew side by side, matching their movements by long practice. The night air, though usually fresh in early April, carried a rancid edge, something he’d connected with this area for a long time.
But he’d lost another of his Guardsmen here at Sweet Gorge, killed sometime this past week. A search patrol had located him just a half hour ago. And this was the fourth murder in a month.
Something was on the wind.
“Invictus?” Finn scratched behind his right ear. He was Ethan’s second-in-command, his long red hair a beacon in any situation.
Using both hands, Ethan shoved his own unruly hair away from his face. Sweat dripped from his forehead. The temp wasn’t too warm in Bergisson Realm this time of year, especially at night. But when his blood-starvation reached difficult levels, he’d often perspire like he’d been battling for hours. “What the hell was Paul doing patrolling in this area?”
Ethan didn’t know Paul well, but he felt responsible for him, as he did for all his Guard. He’d built his force to three hundred strong, but Paul, as a new recruit, wasn’t well-known to many of the Guardsmen.
“He didn’t have orders to go out here, not with three other Guardsmen dead in the past few months along the eastern border.” Ethan let his gaze move from one end of the gorge to the other, then along the monolith to the east. A familiar heavy guilt clawed at his chest. This part of his realm was off-limits having been the place of a massacre forty years earlier.
“Maybe his body was dumped.”
Ethan’s frown tightened his forehead. “Most likely.”
There was a connection between Sweet Gorge and the Invictus. He just didn’t know what it was.
Sweet Gorge used to be a modest resort, a place his family had been to a lot in its prime. Fae leadership had also met here often.
Now his mother, father and sister were gone, lost in the attack, along with many loved ones. Over two hundred realm-folk had been killed all at one time.
Afterward, the stream had dried up, the source cursed by a powerful fae of unknown ancestry. No one had seen the fae female or the deed, only that the stream was blocked, and no amount of power had ever released it. A wall of crystals resided there and none of the fae he knew would go near it.
Besides, there was always the stench to warn realm-folk away, of something not right, very ancient, and deadly.
He scanned the wooded ridgeline along the north side of the gorge. A breeze picked up sending sharp pine scents through the air.
But something else struck his nostrils, the scent of dark fae magic, as though it waited there. His muscles flexed involuntarily along the insides of his arms. Yet in all these decades not a single fae of ability, in any of the Nine Realms, had been able to figure out where all that power was coming from, not even Vojalie, the most powerful fae he knew.
He reset his long hair with the traditional woven clasp. He’d been flying through his realm for the past three hours, hunting the red wind of the Invictus, a sign that preceded an attack. He hadn’t found anything yet, but the night was young.
He’d used up a lot of precious energy, however, and he needed to feed again, the bane of his station as a true mastyr vampire. All the mastyrs he knew experienced desperate levels of blood-need and lately, for no reason he could figure out, his starvation had worsened.
His mouth filled with saliva as he drew his cell from the pocket of his battle leathers. He sent a quick text to one of his doneuses and wasn’t surprised at all when he got a message back to stop in for a quick tap. Bless the dozen women who serviced him.
Damn, he hurt, deep in his gut. He shifted away from Finn and took deep breaths. Hard spasms pulled on his empty stomach once more.
As the two Guardsmen breached the rim, the sling and the body between them, Ethan moved away to give them room. Pines lined both sides of the gorge, trees like the ones in nearby Shreveport, Louisiana, the access point between his plane and the human world.
His realm had seen hard times over the past forty years and he’d felt the weight of his realm on his shoulders. Each of the ruling mastyrs bore the responsibility, nine vampires in charge of a million souls each.
Finn’s phone rang. He listened for a few seconds, then brushed sweat off his forehead with the back of his sleeve. “Shit. Well, that dumb-fuck’s been warned.”
Ethan stared at him. “Tom again?”
Finn put his phone away. “Yep. He’s at Club Prave.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Ethan knew exactly what Tom had been up to. He frequently violated Ethan’s strict laws about how humans and realm-folk were to interact at a human-based event.
Finn grimaced. “I’ll handle this.”
“No. I want to this time. That asshole has been warned long enough and now I’m locking him up.”
“Ethan, you’ve got better things to do than to police the human bars.”
“Not this time. Tom Brignall hides behind his cozy relationship with Ry. Time he learned who’s mastyr around here.”
“Then why the hell is he testing my laws and my authority?”
But Finn’s smile was crooked as he said, “Because he’s a vampire?”
Ethan almost smiled as well. Yet the deeper truth troubled him. Tom had a loyalty to Ry and had caused dozens of problems in recent years because of it.
But Ethan’s other problem surfaced again, as his blood-starvation cramped him up again. He breathed through the pain wondering what the hell was going on with him. He’d never been this desperate where his blood-needs were concerned. And now, because of Tom’s breaking of the non-tapping law at human clubs, he wouldn’t have time to stop by his donor.
He’d make this quick, afterward get his blood craving slaked, then jump back in the field.
He left orders for Paul’s body to be taken to the morgue along with word he’d check in to learn cause of death.
Before any of the men could so much as exchange a glance, or to complain again that he regularly took too much on his own shoulders, he headed south to Shreveport. He flew quickly just a foot or so above the ground. He might have heard Finn grunting his frustration as he took off.
Gerrod, the Mastyr of Merhaine Realm, had tried to warn Ethan he needed to listen to his men, to trust them more, but he was used to doing things his own way and his way was working just fine. So far, he’d kept the Invictus in check in Bergisson, and to-date, he had one of the lowest occurrence rates in all the Nine Realms.
Of course, reducing lost lives to a tolerable statistic grated his nerves. There shouldn’t be any Invictus left to battle. But from the time the fighting pairs had come into existence several hundred years ago, there had simply been no way, at least not yet, for his world to get rid of them permanently. Some force resided behind the Invictus, maybe the same magic that had blocked the stream at Sweet Gorge. Mastyr Gerrod believed a vampire had bonded with a powerful ancient fae and was experimenting with the wraith-pairs.
But where either of these entities had come from, if they even existed, Ethan didn’t know, nor did any of the other realm rulers. Maybe this ancient fae had dammed up the waterfall and the stream, maybe she hadn’t.
He just had a terrible feeling that if he loosened his hold even a little, his realm would see losses like never before.
~ ~ ~
Club Prave gave Samantha Favreau the creeps. From the time she’d arrived two hours ago, one vampire after another had leered at her, asking her to dance, especially the slow-dances.
She’d refused, of course, since in her opinion, vampires were just above slugs in terms of real earthly value.
But that was the point. They weren’t human. They were from a different plane entirely, one somehow attached to earth.
From the time the world of the Nine Realms had made itself known to the citizenry of mortal earth, and started opening up these border clubs, more and more humans had become acquainted with what were called generally realm-folk.
She wouldn’t be here at all, but her sociology professor had suggested using the club as a basis for one of her papers this year. He’d also upped the stakes by giving double points for researching and writing about any aspect of the Realm-world so long as the work included at least three interviews with any of the species of Bergisson Realm.
She’d already interviewed a fae female and a male troll. She was hoping one of the elves would agree to talk. She really didn’t want to talk to a vampire and the shifters seemed very aggressive. Two had been thrown out already this evening for improper display of fur on the premises.
At least the club had rules, which apparently needed enforcing constantly. For instance, there was no blood-sucking allowed. But one of her classmates, Mary, had happily agreed to donate and was doing so across the room.
Samantha could see her seated on a vampire’s lap, just barely visible through the throng of dancers from Samantha’s vantage point. His name was Tom.
She shook her head.
Tom, the vampire.
It just didn’t sound right somehow.
As she watched the dancers, she leaned against the bar and sipped her cosmo slowly. Her gaze shifted from one species to the next, from the quick-footed trolls who moved like beautiful maniacs, to the lithe elves who swayed elegantly when most of the dancers jerked, twisted, and bumped. Then finally, to the muscle-bound shifters who all looked and moved like they could work as male strippers.
But mostly, she avoided eye-contact with the vampires. She could at least admit she found them strangely attractive and it didn’t help that most of the males were over six feet and each carried a lethal air.
From her studies, she knew the basic structure of Bergisson, that a Mastyr Vampire ruled the realm, though each of the towns and hamlets were incorporated and had governing councils. She also knew about the enemy, the Invictus, which never travelled past the access points, at least not that she’d ever heard.
The Mastyr of Bergisson, therefore, had built up a Guard of over three hundred vampires. As she glanced at the several inching closer to her at the bar, she’d bet they were Guardsmen. She didn’t think any of them were under six-three.
She could feel their eyes on her and she could sense their hunger as though their well-known craving for blood became a kind of vibration in her bones.
She huffed a sigh, scoping out where she could go next to get away from the leeches. At least she didn’t feel in any immediate danger. The owner of the club had a staff of shifters who were quite happy to tangle with the vampires and throw them out on their heads if they broke the rules.
For that reason, she knew it was only a matter of time before Tom-the-Vampire and her classmate, Mary, got in serious trouble.
The music blared, couples bounced up and down, strobes flashed. A shifter walked by, his fingers turning furry then returning to normal a couple of times as his human date squealed her excitement over this absurd trick.
She rolled her eyes.
One more male just looking to get laid.
She turned once more toward the dark corner where she could just see Mary’s white thighs above her black boots. Her butt cheeks were almost showing beneath her short red skirt.
Sitting sideways on the vampire’s lap, Mary wasn’t exactly having sex, but giving up a vein to a pair of fangs was about as close as you could get. Her body moved in a back and forth, slow seductive rhythm, as the vampire sucked steadily.
The movement, very familiar in a sexual way, reminded her just how long it had been since she’d been with a man, been in a relationship, even been interested, for that matter. Sometimes she wondered if there was something wrong with her that she couldn’t seem to sustain a long-term relationship.
As her gaze moved over the crowd, she watched the couples getting to know each other. She realized she missed all the touching, the excitement of dating, and especially the sex. Right in this moment, she’d be okay with a one-night anything.
Just not with a vampire.
She released yet another sigh. Okay, so she missed sex, but this wasn’t exactly her idea of a pick-up bar. On the other hand, maybe she’d make an effort to date again, which led to another thought, the one that made her frown. Why was she so easily bored with the men she usually dated?
Samantha scowled into her drink.
The movements in the corner became more pronounced and this time, more was showing than Mary’s skin. Tom’s hand now pushed into one of her butt-cheeks. Donating in public anywhere in Shreveport was strictly forbidden. But what else could she expect from realm-folk at a low-life club like this one?
“Come here often?” The vampire to her left finally made his move.
Samantha’s scowl deepened. Had she really just heard those exact words? Come here often?
She couldn’t help herself. Laughing, she turned and met the vampire’s gaze straight on. “You gotta be kidding me? Can’t men, despite the species, invent a better line than, Come here often?”
But the vampire wasn’t in the least deterred. He blinked a couple of times and his nostrils flared. “Sweet Goddess, but you smell good.” His chin quivered.
Samantha didn’t like the way a pinkish sheen came over his eyes as he shifted his shoulders in her direction, licking his lips. She thought of Little Red Riding Hood and other warning tales from childhood.
She set her now empty glass on the bar and tried to move to her right, just to get out of range, but she bumped into another vampire. This one wore jeans with lots of chains attached. His nostrils worked like bellows, which really freaked her out.
Did human women smell different from vampire females?
She pushed away from the bar and felt a hand on each arm apparently intent on stopping her. She prepared to glare at each of the vampires, even to yell at them about taking their paws off her. Just as quickly, the same fingers fell away. She intended to share her opinion with these cretins anyway about no pawing women in clubs, but found that neither of the vampires was looking at her. Something else had caught their attention and each now scanned the crowd at the front entrance to the club.
The music stopped abruptly and to Samantha’s great surprise the entire club fell silent.
She had no idea what was going on until a deep, booming voice filled the air. “Where are you, Tom Brignall. I’ll have your head for this.”
Samantha stood very still as she watched the crowd part. Realm-folk moved back swiftly, dragging surprised human partners with them, until the new arrival came into view.
A big one, with long, honey-brown hair that flowed away from his face, most of it trapped behind in what she knew to be the woven clasp worn by the Bergisson Guard. Some of the strands were loose and wild, even curly. It was a sexy look on the man.
Then time slowed to a halt.
She blinked as a tremor ran through her head-to-foot. She’d never seen a man like this before. He had to be six-five and built, with shoulders that went on and on. He wore a traditional Guard uniform, similar to the outfit Mary’s vampire wore, a black leather look that seemed to loosen Samantha’s knees.
As he moved past her, she caught a scent, something wild and pungent, almost erotic, yet tough, like it grew on rocky hillsides. She shook her head, trying to clear her head because the vampire’s scent was doing something to her, affecting her ability to reason, and warming things down low.
She felt a profound and quite irrational instinct to follow after him and shove her hair away from her neck.
She realized her heart had started to pound in hard, heavy beats until even her throat ached.
She reached back for the bar to steady herself.
Then strangely, her vision shifted, softening the effect of the strobes and raising the level of light. It was as though she saw him in a late afternoon glow, the kind where the shadows were long and the air golden. But how was it possible she could see him like this?
Right now, though, she didn’t care.
He was a beautiful man, yes that was the word that came to her. Beautiful.
He had a soft indentation in his chin, high cheekbones, and straight eyebrows that currently forged a deep frown. His eyes were smoky brown, like gray and light brown combined.
The uniform, she decided, was sexy as hell with leather boots that climbed his thighs and silver buckles down the sides. He wore a soft woven maroon shirt beneath a leather, sleeveless coat.
But it was his hair that struck some strange deep chord inside her, a long, curled mass, pulled back by the clasp but hanging almost to his waist. She knew the Guardsmen wore their hair long, a signal to their enemies about their military status in the Bergisson Realm.
Her gaze slipped past him to the realm-folk who watched him sweep by. What she saw startled her because most of them appeared to be in awe and some of the fae women held deep lust in their eyes. A few of the low-lifes, however, were scared shitless.
Samantha knew she must have looked like the fae women as well, hungry for the man, a reminder she’d been alone way too long.
She forced herself to look away from him as he headed to the far wall.
She drew a couple of deep breaths then heard Mary crying out, “What are you doing to him? Stop it. Oh. Oh, Mastyr Ethan, I’m…I’m sorry, but what did he do wrong?” Mary wasn’t the brightest woman around.
So, the ruling mastyr of Bergisson had come to Club Prave.
As quickly as Ethan disappeared into the crowd, he returned hauling his prey by the thick collar of the Guardsman’s coat. The vampire looked wobbly from feeding, his eyes sunken, his fangs glistening red. “Ry won’t stand for this.” His voice was a shriek.
“You know the rules and you’ve been warned often.”
“Ethan, we’ve got him.” Another male voice sounded through the club.
Samantha turned to her right. From the direction of the entrance, at least six Guardsmen created a new flurry of excitement as they marched in.
They were an amazing presence in matching uniforms and had the females in the club panting. The foremost, with shocking red hair, hurried forward and grabbed the prisoner by the arm.
“Finn, what are you doing here?” Mastyr Ethan asked.
“Just thought we’d drop by, scope the scene.” His voice held an amused note.
Ethan didn’t seem pleased, however, though Samantha couldn’t imagine why. “All right. You can take care of him, but I want him locked up for this.” He then flung Tom in the redhead’s direction, the one called Finn. The rough movement sent the offender sprawling.
The Guardsman picked him up off the dance floor. Another of the Guard grabbed his opposite arm and without missing a beat, they hauled him back to the entrance, then outside.
Ethan, now opposite Samantha, appeared ready to leave as well. He even took a couple of steps forward before stopping dead in his tracks.
His nostrils flared, just like the vampire to her left had done earlier, just a few moments ago.
She felt uneasy suddenly, like she was walking on the railroads tracks and could feel the vibrations beneath her feet of a train hurtling toward her. She also became painfully aware that her heart still pounded as she watched Ethan. Yet, it wasn’t fear she felt, but a sense of pressing need to give him her most essential life-force.
She wanted to feed a vampire, something she’d always thought abhorrent.
What the hell was happening to her?
~ ~ ~
Ethan smelled the woman first, a scent like crushed raspberries mixed with wine, like something he wanted to lap up with his tongue and savor for a lifetime.
He had meant to follow right after Finn and the other men, but the scent stopped him. Beneath that fruit-laden aphrodisiac, he caught another scent: The woman’s blood, and it was like nothing he’d ever smelled before, like she had rivers of it and it was meant for him.
That one thought, rivers of blood meant for him, made him turn toward her and stare hard.
A recent memory surfaced, of Mastyr Gerrod, a fellow mastyr vampire. He’d been ready to tear Ethan to shreds for touching a woman like this one, a woman with rivers of blood, a woman in his realm-world known as a blood rose.
Gerrod had met a human named Abigail, who had relieved him forever of his blood starvation. Ethan had been fiercely drawn to Abigail as well.
As he stared at the black-haired female, there could be only one explanation. Sweet Goddess of Life, the woman standing alone at the bar, with several vampires moving away from her on either side of her, was a Goddess-be-damned blood rose.
His stomach cramped hard in anticipation of taking from her.
She must have registered his desire because she lifted her hand and pressed it against her neck as though trying to hold her vein steady. He could feel her blood singing for him, a soft vibration that forced another cramp through his stomach.
She shook her head and he could see she was bewildered. She had no idea what she was or why he, and every other vampire in the place, wanted her.
He knew the crowd was still there, waiting on him. The moment he’d entered the club, the owner had cut the music. Yet for a long, terrible moment all he could do was stare.
The woman was tall. He liked that. Shapely. Nice breasts. She wore her thick black hair straight and to the shoulders with a slight upward curve at the ends. Her eyes were the lightest blue he’d ever seen, almost unearthly. She wore jeans and a short-sleeved purple blouse, nothing fancy or even welcoming. He could smell her sex, though, her desire for him. She couldn’t disguise what she felt, what she was experiencing.
Sweet Goddess, a blood rose in Shreveport, right next door to the Bergisson plane.
He walked toward her but only because he couldn’t seem to do anything else. He could see from the way she wrinkled her nose she wasn’t exactly happy about what was happening.
Well, he wasn’t either.
Maybe Mastyr Gerrod of Merhaine had found bliss with his blood rose, but Ethan wasn’t interested in this kind of liaison. He’d watched Gerrod become possessive and lose himself in Abigail, the last thing Ethan wanted to do with any woman, human or otherwise. Yet, still he moved toward her.
“What’s your name?” he called out.
She glanced around, growing more uncomfortable by the second. Everyone in the place stared at them both. He was used to this kind of attention. Overseeing an entire realm did that to a man. But she had the wild look of a trapped animal. She’d bolt, if she could.
Then she lifted her chin and her shoulders straightened. He saw a hard glint enter her eye and he approved. “Samantha Favreau. And you’re Mastyr Ethan of Bergisson.”
“What do you want with me?”
“What do I want?” His voice boomed once more. He glared at her now, angry her body offered something he craved.
He was about to force himself to turn on his heel and leave her the hell alone, when he saw something flash in her eye. It was a familiar expression that often occurred when a powerful fae woman slipped into a vision.
Holy fuck, the woman wasn’t just human, she was part fae.
And he’d bet his last farthing she didn’t know, or hadn’t known until this very second, she carried realm-blood in her human veins.
~ ~ ~
Samantha swept her hands back to anchor herself by gripping the edge of the bar. She didn’t understand the sensations pouring over her, of a strange vibration accompanied by images commanding her mind.
An entire scene came to life within her head as though she was watching a movie, the colors rich and vivid. An event was taking place at night, a kind of fair, she supposed, with tables laden with trinkets, musical instruments, stuffed animals, the usual carnival-ware.
At one end of a wide, playing field, colorful round canvas tents lined the grounds. They were painted with scenes of woodland settings, animals, and children playing games.
The vision caused her to pan to the right and over to a distant hillside. A beech wood climbed to the top. But the trees suddenly grew red with what looked like fire at first, but couldn’t have been since the foliage didn’t catch and burn.
No, the red seemed to be a kind of wind. She remembered from her studies that when the Invictus wraith-pairs attacked, the air would fill with a red haze.
As though she stood in the middle of everything, Guardsmen suddenly flew past her in their powerful levitated-flight. Some were high in the air, others just a foot above the ground. Mastyr Ethan was in the lead. On they raced in the direction of the hill, the trees, and the red wind.
Within the vision, she caught up with Ethan, something that made sense since his appearance in front of her at the prave had set the strange vision off in the first place. The Guardsmen, maybe fifty of them, formed a battle line to Ethan’s left then to his right.
Pairs of strange beings, joined in a mystical, powerful way, appeared in the red wind. Jolts, like an electrical force, moved from the pairs to each individual Guardsman. A fierce light show emerged of red and blue sparks and streams of battle energy, from one side to the other, back and forth.
Daggers and other weapons showed up as well, thrown, sometimes connecting. At intervals, Guardsmen rushed the pairs and brought them down screaming.
She knew what made up the battling pairs: A wraith and some other enslaved realm-person. She’d even heard that sometimes humans could engage in the same way, which made her shudder. Other than being bitten by a vampire, she couldn’t think of a worse fate.
The vision suddenly tunneled down to Ethan. She could sense him faltering as he called out for Finn, his second-in-command. She could feel their bond, that they’d been brother-warriors for decades.
Finn took charge as Ethan fell to the ground.
She hovered over him now, within the body of the vision. She felt how weak he was and that it had to do with a lack of blood. Mary had told her about the mastyr vampires, those men of stature in the world of the Nine Realms who served as leaders. Something about their natural power used up donated blood at light-speed forcing them to constantly replenish. They were never really satisfied.
Yes, another shudder.
She drew closer and felt a powerful need to offer up her vein. She could feel he was near death. Once more, her heart pounded and she touched her neck.
“He’s dying! We need help here. Mastyr Ethan is dying!” Finn’s panicked voice rose above the sounds of the battle.
In the vision, Ethan’s eyes closed. His skin paled out. Somewhere, from deep within her mind, she heard him call to her, Help me, Samantha. Only you can save me. You’re a blood rose. Save me. Please.
Samantha struggled to leave the confines of the vision, but Ethan was so desperate. She felt, she knew she held his life in her hands because she was something called ‘a blood rose’.
She placed her wrist over his mouth.
She heard him groan.
She saw his fangs and felt him clutch at her wrist holding her fast.
Maybe it was the force of his touch or that she could feel those sharp fangs penetrate her skin. But these images wrested her from the powerful hold of the vision. She took her hands off the bar and extended them in front of her as though warding something or someone off.
Slowly, the club came back into view, still silent.
Ethan moved to stand in front of her, just a few feet away, but he was blurred as though the strange vision had affected her eyesight. She breathed in heavy gulps and dizziness threatened to pull her to her knees.
She heard Ethan say something like ‘back off’ or ‘get back’, she wasn’t sure. Even her hearing needed to catch up with the present.
She blinked several times and finally he came into focus. Her heart once more thudded and she found it hard to breathe. He was the one she wanted, had always wanted, would desire until the day she died.
The remnants of the vision drifted away. A calmness came over her. He held her gaze steadily, looking both worried and angry, almost outraged as though she’d done something wrong.
But what had she done? What the hell had just happened to her? What was it she’d seen? Was this something that would soon happen. If it was, what responsibility did she have in this situation?
Her chest ached and she planted a fist against her sternum and rubbed. In the vision, he’d called her ‘a blood rose’. What did he mean by it and was this why her heart beat so hard in her chest? Ethan’s gaze fell to that fist and he shook his head back and forth as though he couldn’t help himself.
My God, did the vampire actually expect her to donate? Was that what it meant to be a blood rose? Well, if it did, he’d be waiting a really long time.
“I need to go home.” She pressed her lips into a resolute line making sure he understood her intention.
His lips parted and he swallowed hard. He dipped his chin and looked away from her. “Yes. You should definitely leave and it would be best if you didn’t come back.”
“Wait, I don’t intend to return, but why would you say that?”
He lowered his chin. “Because I won’t be responsible for what happens to you next time.”
Her temper flared. “You weren’t responsible this time, Mastyr Ethan. I can take care of myself.”
His gaze shifted back to her and an odd light flitted through his eye, something close to respect. “Fine. Then come back as often as you like.”
He glanced around, his hard gaze landing on one male vampire after another. He watched as each faded into the crowd, never again looking at her and at the same time avoiding Ethan’s glare.
She wasn’t sure, but she sensed a wave of possessiveness flow in her direction from Ethan. Maybe in some realm-like way, he’d staked his claim, warning other vampires to keep their distance. The sensation covered her like a cloak and against all proffered intention, she wanted more.
If he glared at her, she returned his expression in full, which made her think he didn’t like the situation any more than she did.
She said nothing more, but turned and headed back through the crowd, toward the entrance. Time to go home.
But had she actually had some kind of vision, a foreshadowing of the future? How the hell was that possible? She was human, not realm.
~ ~ ~
Ethan watched the woman move in the pathway that led through the crowd all the way to the front door. She held her head high, but he sensed the depth of her confusion. She didn’t know what she was and he doubted she’d ever had a vision before.
He’d wanted to detain her, to talk to her, even to offer some sort of reassurance she wasn’t out of her mind. But some instinct held him back, a serious warning the woman was trouble on all fronts.
Sweet Goddess, a blood rose in Shreveport.
Despite knowing none of the realm-folk would return to their fun until he gave permission, all he seemed capable of doing was watching her walk out of the club.
Then, with the disappearance of his blood rose, his current need for blood roared back to life and he listed on his feet. Nausea swept over him. A female vampire came up to him, one of his doneuses, thank the Goddess.
“Mastyr?” she asked quietly.
He nodded and took her by the elbow.
She knew the drill. She stepped up on his left foot, slid her arm around his neck, and the crowd made an even bigger pathway.
He flew her swiftly through the building then out into the parking lot. He rose into the air well above the cars.
As he did, he felt a call on him, down and to the left. Continuing to fly forward, he glanced into the dark sea of vehicles. He warmed up his vampire vision just as Samantha turned to look up at him, her eyes wide with astonishment. Maybe she didn’t frequent the prave so she probably hadn’t seen a vampire in flight before, or maybe not flying quite this high.
At the same time, his personal frequency vibrated and her thoughts were suddenly in his mind. That should be me. I should be feeding Ethan. Oh, what the hell am I thinking? What’s wrong with me?
So, she was capable of pathing, of telepathic communication. She probably didn’t know that either. But it was one more indication the woman had fae blood.
For her sake, he didn’t respond.
He shut down her accompanying flow of frustration and disbelief. His power was ebbing and thank the Goddess the tree-line wasn’t far away.
As soon as he reached the first row of pines, he descended swiftly. Once on the ground, the woman hopped off his booted foot, pulled her hair to the side and he was on her. His fangs nipped quickly and set the blood to flowing. As he sucked down what was so necessary to keep him alive, but which would barely satisfy his needs, his thoughts turned to Samantha. He sucked harder, groaning against the woman’s neck.
After a minute, however, of being lost in the fantasy of drinking from Samantha, he realized his doneuse was trying to push him away.
He left her throat, swiping and healing the wounds as he did so. When he drew back, he was appalled to see tears in her eyes. “Anita, I’m so sorry.”
“It was just…rough. Mastyr, are you all right?” She held her hand pressed to her neck.
Shit, because he’d been thinking about Samantha, he’d gotten carried away. “Who the hell cares if I’m all right? Are you okay?”
“I’m fine.” She rubbed the wounds and as he warmed his vision up again, he saw the bruising.
“Sweet Goddess, I’m so sorry. A thousand apologies. Do you want me to summon one of the fae healers?”
But at that, she smiled. “No. I’ll be fine in an hour or so, I was just surprised. You’ve never been like this before. Was it the woman, the human?”
He waited for her to say more, to mention Samantha by name, but she remained quiet and respectful. He really didn’t want to reveal the truth to her. “No, I was stupid. I let my blood starvation reach a critical level.”
“Stupid is right when you know we’re all here to serve you.”
“I know, which makes me a Goddess-be-damned fool.”
His doneuses were a real blessing in his life. Early on he’d used them as much for sex as for blood. But the combination had caused too many bonding issues. In recent decades, he’d held a non-involvement policy with the women who donated.
“Do you want to return to the prave? I’ll take you back if you like.”
“No, that’s okay.” She chuckled softly and once more rubbed her neck. “I think for now I’d better head home.”
“Oh, Goddess! Again, I’m sorry.”
“Stuff it, Ethan. You’re a good guy. We all think so and you’re allowed to make a mistake now and then.”
With that, she headed north, toward Bergisson and away from Shreveport. He turned and glanced through the trees. His Guardsmen had returned from delivering Tom to the closest jail and now hovered above the ground at the edge of the parking lot, waiting for him.
Time to go kick some Invictus ass.
But as he sped in their direction, descending quickly to the parking lot, he wavered slightly. He almost tipped into the pavement which would have sent him crashing into a nearby Ford truck. At the last second, he righted himself.
Well, that had never happened before.
As he landed close to his men, Finn called out, “What the hell was that?”
“I think I took the draw too quick.”
A chuckle went through the men. What vampire hadn’t been a little tipsy after slaking a blood-thirst too fast?
Of course, the trouble was, Ethan knew the truth. His blood rose had arrived in a half-human woman who didn’t know she was part fae, and whose blood would finally ease his starvation. But the last thing he wanted was a serious relationship. From what he’d seen of Abigail and Gerrod, ‘serious’ barely scratched the surface of what went on between a mastyr and his blood rose.
When he’d handed out orders for the next few hours, he took Finn aside and told him about Samantha. He needed at least one other person in on what had happened in the club.
“What are you going to do?” Finn kept his voice quiet, but his face had wind-blasted look. “I mean, will you take her on since she could resolve your starvation?” Finn knew all about what had happened to Gerrod not so long ago.
“I’m tempted because she could take care of my blood-needs permanently. But it’s only part of the equation. The rest has the appearance of a nightmare waiting to happen. I felt her power, Finn. She’s on Vojalie’s level, or if not hers then some of the more powerful fae in the Bergisson Guild.”
Finn whistled. “And she has no idea?”
“Not that I could tell. She seemed pretty shocked out when she left here.”
Finn’s phone rang. He spoke briefly to one of the Guard lieutenants. Finn informed Ethan of an Invictus-pair sighting not far from Caldwell in the northwest, about thirty miles from the realm’s wastelands. “Are you coming with?”
Ethan frowned. For one of the few times in his life, he didn’t have a quick answer. Something about Samantha held him back.
He shook his head. “I think I need to sort things out here first. You get the Guard on this, but if you need me, call right away.”
“You know I will.”
“In the meantime, I want updates.”
As he watched Finn, and the rest of the Guard take to the air, he felt the familiar pull to be with them. They were his brothers-in-arms. His job was to fight alongside them, which only made him resent even more Samantha’s sudden appearance in his life.
Yet, his instincts warned him something was up. The realm-world would never be as straightforward as earth. Forces were constantly at work, guiding realm-folk down various paths.
What he didn’t know was why Samantha had suddenly appeared in a prave near the Bergisson access point? Was it fate? Or just a coincidence?
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I hope you enjoyed this excerpt from EMBRACE THE MAGIC!
Let the Blood Rose Series become a new journey for you!
And now, have a wonderful day and an even better night! For more information about my books, keep scrolling! Live the fang!
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Be sure to look for your welcome letter which has the link to your free e-book!
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Most Recent Releases:
A VAMPIRE’S SOFT EMBRACE
Taking the vampire into the past, changed the future…
The man held her heart in his hand.
He had for the past five years.
Did he even have the smallest clue?
~ A Vampire’s Soft Embrace
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REVEALED: Rapture’s Edge 3, A Guardians of Ascension Novel #11
He’s a warrior deep in his bones, but all she ever wanted was peace…
As Duncan battles the dangerous death vampires at night, during the day he fights an even greater monster: He can’t believe he’s worthy of the woman he loves.
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Mastyr Vampire Stone wants to bond with Aralynn, his battle partner, until he learns she lives a double life as a woman he despises…
For hundreds of years, Stone has lived a solitary life, serving Tannisford Realm as he battles the deadly Invictus wraith-pairs with his Vampire Guard.
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More about Caris Roane and her books!!!
THE FLAME SERIES
Vampire Officer Connor of the Crescent Border Patrol tries to suppress his desire for Iris, a powerful witch. Because the woman possesses the ability to kill him with the tips of her fingers, how can he possibly fall in love with her? When a double homicide throws them together, he soon finds his deepest fantasies fulfilled as Iris succumbs to his seductions.
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Vampire Officer Vaughn of the Crescent Border Patrol gets called to a triple homicide in a deadly place called the Graveyard. When he finds that Emma Delacey has been summoned to the same crime scene, warning bells sound. He’s tried to suppress his desire for the beautiful witch knowing nothing good can come of a relationship in the alter world of Five Bridges.
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Brannick works with Juliet Tunney to help several human women escape the nightmare of Five Bridges. But something isn’t right. Juliet acts as though she knows him really well, yet he’s only met her once. Unless…the dreams he’s been having about her aren’t dreams at all.
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AMBER FLAME, Book #4 of the Flame Series
Fergus has been without an alpha-mate for three years, from the time his wife was murdered. He’s failed repeatedly to bond with the female wolves of the Gordion Pack. When he rescues a fae woman from a sex club, his need to bond with her goes into overdrive.
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On Christmas Eve, vampire Officer Kyle Drake has finally persuaded the shy wolf shifter, Verena, to go on a first date. His plans include a little mistletoe and a lot of seduction.
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THE GUARDIANS OF ASCENSION SERIES
(After Ascension, Burning Skies, Wings of Fire, Born of Ashes, Obsidian Flame and Gates of Rapture)
Includes Sub-Series: Dawn of Ascension and the Rapture’s Edge Saga
Warrior Gideon swore he would never see Elise Jordan again even though they’d been passionate lovers for two years. Her human nature couldn’t survive in his ascended vampire world; she would be vulnerable to attack on every front if he tried to continue a relationship with her.
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Fearing that his newly emerged grayle power will kill innocent ascenders, Samuel Daman struggles to keep his distance from beautiful Vela Stillwell. But the breh-hedden has struck and her light floral scent tears at his restraint.
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For the last few weeks, since Warrior Duncan professed his intention ‘to try’ to make his relationship with Rachel work, he’s failed on all fronts. But how can he explain that a serpent lives in his gut, poisoning him against her?
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For decades, Warrior Duncan has had an on-again, off-again relationship with a woman opposed to his warrior lifestyle. When Rachel shows up in his life again, he wants to keep his distance, but the infamous breh-hedden, the myth-that-isn’t-a myth, bears down on him keeping him in a perpetual caveman-like state.
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THE BLOOD ROSE SERIES – SHORT WORKS
The Blood Rose Tales, are much shorter stories than the “Embrace” books of the Blood Rose Series. Each ‘tale’ highlights one particular aspect of the world of the Nine Realms as well as a mastyr vampire in pursuit of his Blood Rose.
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Zephyr can’t keep away from Alesia and feels obligated to keep her safe. They’d broken up, unable to reconcile painfully opposing views on what should be done to the evil Invictus pairs. But when several wraith-pairs attack her diner, he flies her to safety, taking her home where they’re trapped together for the entire day.
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Yolen keeps his love life and his work life separate with one goal in mind – to protect Brianna. After seeing his best friend slaughtered by the enemy, he will do whatever it takes to ensure Brianna’s safety even if it means holding her at a distance.
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For weeks, Mastyr Willem, agent for the Realm Investigative Unit, has been tracking Charlotte Vail, a human college student at the local Grochaire University. He’s had a thing for Charlotte that he doesn’t quite understand.
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THE BLOOD ROSE SERIES – THE BOOKS
Enter a world of blood-starved mastyr vampires and the rare women who can satisfy their deepest needs…
How can he resist his blood rose…
Gerrod, mastyr vampire of the Merhaine Realm, never thought to have his blood-needs satisfied by a mere human. But Abigail is no ordinary woman.
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Ethan, mastyr vampire of the Bergisson Realm, never thought to find his blood rose, the one woman who could ease the blood-starvation he’s endured for decades. But Samantha carries a surprising level of power as her newly discovered fae heritage emerges..
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Quinlan must keep Grochaire Realm safe from the enemy at all costs. As ruler of his realm, a woman has no permanent place in his day-to-day existence. But when his lust takes him to Batya’s bedroom, he soon discovers he’s deep into a powerful experience that threatens to blow his life apart.
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Seth, Mastyr Vampire of Walvashorr Realm, craves Lorelei, his new bodyguard, but he has a hands-off policy with those under his command. However, the sexy glint in her eye, as well as her wolf-shifter ways, keeps him in a fevered state.
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Mastyr Vampire Jude has kept his distance from all women because he lost his wife and daughter to an enemy attack a hundred years ago. He won’t go through that kind of loss again. And he won’t jeopardize another woman’s life while the deadly Invictus wraith-pairs still pose a threat in the Nine Realms.
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Mastyr Vampire Malik has only one goal: to serve the realm he loves. Battling both the dreaded Invictus wraith-pairs and an element in Ashleaf Realm that wants all innocent wraiths dead, Malik can’t afford to get distracted. But Willow has already become an obsession as he lusts for the powerful fae whose blood he craves.
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Mastyr Vampire Zane didn’t want another woman in his life not after the dreaded Invictus killed his wife five years ago. He serves Swanicott Realm, the land he rules, and doesn’t want anything to interfere with his war against the enemy.
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Mastyr Vampire Ian never wanted to see Regan again. He blamed her for the massacre at Raven’s Overlook, an attack that killed his sister and her children. He’s convinced Regan enthralled him, using her extensive fae powers to keep him by her side. If he’d been in his realm that night, he could have saved 200 people.
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Mastyr Vampire Griffin hates his enslavement in Margetta’s fortress. He sought death a thousand times because of it, but was denied when the Ancient Fae brought him back repeatedly, forcing him to train her evil army. When a beautiful fae-slave, Sandra, tells him to live, he begins to believe his life could have more meaning…
Caris Roane is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty-seven paranormal romance books. Writing as Valerie King, she has published fifty novels and novellas in Regency Romance. Caris lives in Phoenix, Arizona, loves gardening, enjoys the birds and lizards in her yard, but encourages the scorpions to inhabit elsewhere! Her motto: Live the Fang!
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